Colorado lawmakers have sent bills to the governor that would allow online marijuana sales and bolster protections for working professionals in the state.
The online sales legislation from Reps. William Lindstedt (D), Said Sharbini (D) and Robert Rodriguez (D) passed the House last month and cleared the Senate in a 32-12 third reading vote on Monday.
It would strike language from existing statute that explicitly prohibits cannabis from being sold on the internet, while adding regulations to provide for online commerce.
Adults 21 and older would still need to physically pick up the marijuana products from the retailer, but they could browse and electronically purchase cannabis online.
The bill says that retailers would be required to verify the name and age of the customer at the time of the online purchase, and that information would have to match identification that they’d provide when they come to pick up the products.
Further, the retailer would have to provide shoppers with “digital versions of all warning or educational materials that the retail marijuana store is required to post and provide on its licensed premises.” The customer would have to “acknowledge receipt” of those materials before finishing their purchase.
“What the bill mainly aims to do, from my perspective, is reduce cash in the marijuana space, which is something that is exceedingly important to do because when there is a tremendous amount of cash in any industry, it can lead to some troubling outcomes—specifically things like robbery,” Sen. Kevin Van Winkle (R) said on the floor on Monday. “It sets them up for tremendous amount of potential theft, and other things.”
He added that he also hopes congressional lawmakers will further resolve the marijuana industry’s unique financial and public safety issues by passing the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act that was refiled last week.
Meanwhile, a separate cannabis measure from Van Winkle that was approved by the Senate last month advanced through the House in a 49-13 third reading vote on Monday.
It would prohibit regulators from denying or revoking professional certifications, registrations or licenses to people based solely on prior civil or criminal violations over cannabis-related activity that’s been made legal in the state.
If a person’s licensure or certification was previously impacted because of a marijuana issue, that also couldn’t be used as the basis for disciplinary action going forward.
The bill would effectively codify an executive order that Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued last year, providing broad professional licensing protections for workers who use marijuana in compliance with state law. That order has also prevented state agencies from assisting in any out-of-state investigations related to lawful cannabis conduct that could result in employment penalties.
The governor said that the policy was especially necessary to avoid deterring qualified individuals from pursuing work in the state and to address workforce shortages. So it stands to reason that he’d sign the bill that’s now being sent to his desk.
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Since becoming one of the first states to legalize adult-use marijuana, Colorado lawmakers have taken up numerous reforms to build upon and revise the law.
The state has taken steps to promote energy efficiency in the cannabis sector and also ensure social equity in the industry is prioritized as it continues to grow and diversify.
The governor recently touted the state’s first-ever marijuana vending machine, which can package, label and dispense cannabis products to adult consumers—with transactions being completed in as little as 50 seconds.
Colorado officials have also repeatedly called on the federal government to enact reform, and the governor contacted U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to inquire about the timeline for the agency’s review into federal marijuana scheduling that President Joe Biden directed last year.
The state has also been a hub for bold psychedelic reform, with voters approving a ballot initiative last year to legalize certain entheogenic substances and allow psilocybin therapy.
Last week, the Colorado House approved a Senate-passed bill to create a regulatory framework for legal psychedelics under a voter-approved initiative. Since being introduced earlier this month, the measure has moved quickly as lawmakers work to enact it before the end of the legislative session on May 6.
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.